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Expert group proposes strategies for US to counter China’s dominance

Washington should act with increased speed to develop supply chains for critical minerals from Africa, a USIP report says

Washington could advance its policy goals in Africa through strategic investment in an effort to reduce reliance on China for supplies of critical minerals, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) said on Tuesday.

The Washington-based think tank made the recommendation in a report that examined Africa’s role in Washington’s efforts to diversify critical US mineral supply chains.

“US economic and national security depend on securing a reliable supply of critical minerals, including from Africa,” the report said.

However, the “near 100%” reliance on “foreign entities of concern” – mainly China – for minerals including cobalt, graphite, and manganese is “concerning,” the expert group stated.

Western governments and mining companies are falling behind Chinese competitors in gaining access to Africa’s abundant mineral resources, which are crucial for industries such as electric vehicle manufacturing and defense.

Last October, the Financial Times reported that the US had stepped up efforts to counter China’s potential dominance of Africa’s mineral resources and curtail its access to advanced technologies as the world’s two largest economies compete for clean energy solutions.

Beijing has become an active player in Africa’s resource market, making substantial investments in lithium, nickel, and cobalt production on the continent as it seeks to defend its dominance in processing metals for electric vehicles.

In the 76-page report, USIP advised Washington to engage in “more vigorous commercial diplomacy with a keen eye toward building critical mineral partnerships in Africa” in order to “tactically” counter Chinese mining on the continent.

The group proposed that the US should strengthen commercial diplomacy in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) – the world’s leading cobalt supplier, and Zambia – Africa’s second-largest copper producer.

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“Forging such partnerships will not be easy, but doing so could establish the United States and its allies as Africa’s preferred partners in supporting the continent’s critical minerals development,” it said.

According to the report, unlocking US investment in the DR Congo could be helped by reopening its consulate in Lubumbashi, which closed in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War.

Washington must also “prioritize prompt and full development of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Zambia” to guide American private investors across the battery supply chain, USIP added.

April 09, 2024 at 05:52PM
RT

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